miercuri, 31 octombrie 2007
I was waiting for so long
For a miracle to come
Everyone told me to be strong
Hold on and don't shed a tear
Through the darkness and good times
I knew I'd make it through
And the world thought I had it all
But I was waiting for you ..
Where it was dark now there's light ,
Where there was pain now there's joy,
Where there was weakness, I found my strength .
Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new, new sun
A new day has...come .
miercuri, 24 octombrie 2007
The Armenians are a people with a prominent place on the long list of those shafted by history. They may consider, as Congress wavers on an Armenian genocide resolution so tantalizingly close, that they are about to get it again.
Like others in their ancestral neighborhood, the Armenians are a proud people who consider themselves to represent the ancient origins of man and civilization. In their case, direct descent from Noah, who landed his ark on their sacred mountain of Ararat, currently and regrettably located on the wrong side of the Turkish border. They will also proudly tell you that they were the first to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 A.D. And that more or less ever since, they’ve waged a rearguard action for Christianity and western civilization.
Armenia once stretched from the Mediterranean to the Caspian. Today, there is an Armenia of memory and dreams, preserved and nurtured in multi-generational exile in California, Massachusetts, France and Lebanon. Actual Armenia is a wretchedly poor rump state, landlocked, wedged between enemies in Turkey and Azerbaijan, with unstable Georgia to the north and pariah Iran to the south, a survivor of the highly successful Turkish ethnic cleansing campaign of 1915-22, and a victim of the Soviet political and economic oppression that followed.
It is a tortured history. The Armenians have been fighting for a very long time, often without friends, in a part of the world where it is sometimes necessary to choose one’s allies and one’s enemies according to the circumstances as they present themselves. Their experience has made them tough, bitter, resourceful and determined, a people not to be trifled with. It has also made them very practical.
Consider the example of General Dro.
Drastamat “Dro” Kanayan was born during an earthquake in 1884, an Armenian in what is now eastern Turkey. He was buried in exile in a New England blizzard in 1956. In 2000, accompanying the party that brought his exhumed remains home, I witnessed his final triumphal return amid hail and the crash of lightning to Bash Abaran, the scene of his 1918 rout of a Turkish division.
Dro started his career as a terrorist, fighting the Russian occupiers of eastern Armenia. By 21, he had committed three political assassinations — two Russian officials and one Armenian collaborator. But in 1914, he chose the Russians over the Turks as the lesser of two evils. Czar Nicholas would later decorate him for bravery.
“I am a soldier,” Dro is reported to have said as he prepared to join the Russian army to fight the Turks. “I know nothing about politics. But I am convinced that this will be the last and decisive battle. Freedom or death. And I also have a feeling that many of us will not return from the battlefield. Great work requires many victims.”
Dro’s lifelong concern was Armenia’s survival. Who he aligned himself with and how he might feel about them was secondary to the needs of his people in the moment. Because he had no other choice. Czarist Russians against Ottoman Turks. German Nazis against Soviet Russians. Turkish-allied Americans against the Soviet Union. Dro had to make his calculations and make his choices in a life spent at war.
So Dro threw his lot with his erstwhile enemies, the Russians. By 1918, Russia was involved in its own revolution and Armenia was left to defend itself against the Turks. Dro is noted in Armenian history for insisting forcefully that Armenia sacrifice territory to Turkey — including his own hometown of Igdir — so that the outnumbered Armenian troops could consolidate on a smaller front and save something of Armenia.
Then, as the Turkish army advanced and Armenia’s politicians in Yerevan considered capitulating before they were overrun, Dro demanded that the army be allowed to fight until the end. The Turks were routed weeks later in two key battles, one of which was fought by Dro and his men.
In the last days of May 1918, the roads over the mountain passes leading to Yerevan were clogged with thousands of desperate refugees and bedraggled Armenian soldiers, retreating ahead of the Turkish army. Armenian officer Arthur Ayvazian described chaos, panic, death and starvation.
“Men, women, children, babies, deserting Armenian soldiers in military uniforms, cows, donkeys, carts, etc., were all together in one solid mass, going nowhere,” he wrote. “I saw … hungry Armenian refugees, mostly women, with sunken eyes and cheeks, bent over, like a herd of sheep, plucking green grass with their fingers and eating it. …I saw the bodies of dead babies wrapped in rags.”
Turkish forces were closing in on Yerevan from the west in a three-pronged attack at Sardarabad to the south, the mountain pass at Bash Abaran in the center, and Karakilisa farther north, according to UCLA professor Richard Hovannisian and other sources. Armenian forces managed to halt the southern Turkish advance at Sardarabad on May 22.
At Abaran, Dro, then 33, commanded a brigade of about 3,000 Russian-trained regulars and guerrillas. On May 25, he sent his cavalry against the Turkish line near the village of Knodakhsaz. But where they had expected to find a regiment of Turks, they found a division of 10,000. Dro’s cavalry were pushed back with heavy losses.
On May 26, the Turks counterattacked with a pincer movement, attempting to encircle Dro’s smaller force. His men dug in and held along a line of villages. Dro, known for his fearlessness as a military leader, is said to have used the cover of a sleet storm to personally reconnoiter the Turkish positions and rearrange his own troops.
On May 28, he lured the Turks into the open. He had concealed the arrival of 1,700 reinforcements, which he sent forward in a furious assault.
“Half the cavalry was slaughtered,” said Martin Kanayan, the general’s son. “But when the cavalry charged them, even though they lost so many, it terrified the Turks and broke their line.
“After they had repelled the Turks, his comment was, `My sons, my brothers. There is no way you can stop and rest. You have to keep pushing them over the horizon,’” Dro’s son said. The routed Turks abandoned equipment and weapons as they fled. Dro’s troops recaptured Bash Abaran May 29, securing the route to Yerevan and sending the Turks in full retreat.
The news of the victories lifted the spirits of the refugees and inspired soldiers further up the line, leading to a successful push against the northern Turkish advance at Karakilisa.
“It was a beautiful spring evening, but the road was covered with disorganized soldiers, covered with mud, tired and dispirited. The endless row of wagons of refugees, horsemen here and there, a cannon on wheels, cries, noise, confusion,” recalled one veteran, quoted by Hovannisian. “But then suddenly the news and everyone listening emotionally to news that our side had crushed the enemy. … Excitement and joy for those tired and depressed people. `Our boys have triumphed, we have defeated them.’ … It was a miracle.”
Within two years, that miracle had expired. At the age of 35, Dro began a lifelong exile after the Soviets invaded his briefly independent Armenia, ending up in Romania by the start of World War II.
Turkish critics, who accuse Dro of a long list of war crimes, have slammed him for collaborating with the Germans after they occupied Romania. A fierce anti-communist, promised of a free Armenia by the Nazis, Dro raised and led an Armenian force that was part of the German Army on the Russian Front. Armenian scholars say he was not a Nazi and claim he used his influence among the Germans to save captured Red Army Armenians from Nazi death camps.
By Dro’s bier in Yerevan in 2000, I met an old Soviet Red Army veteran, there to pay his respects to the forceful Armenian in a German uniform who he said intervened to save him, when Germans had ordered him shot in the Ukraine in 1944.
“He saved my life. What else can I say,” said Arutyun Sevoyan, 78, his chest full of Soviet medals. “I have tears of happiness, of joy, to see Dro’s body returned to his homeland. He was a god who saved my life, and those of 5,000 to 7,000 other Armenians. Dro was a hero then and always will be in my eyes.”
Dro himself was later saved from Soviet imprisonment and probable death when Allied intelligence officers, with whom he is said to have maintained contact during the war, spirited him to America and allegedly employed him as an agent in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.
America, Armenia’s best hope, was ironically allied with Armenia’s old enemy, Turkey, against a new common enemy, the Soviet Union. Dro’s reburial in free Armenia in 2000 did not just honor his victory over the Turks that allowed what is left of Armenia to exist. It represented a final triumph over the Soviets and not least a triumph over bitter political divisions within the larger Armenian diaspora.
Dro’s is a tale of resourcefulness, determination, brinksmanship and practical compromise in a war that never ended, with only partial victories and few satisfactions.
Recognition of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians and the theft of their property by the Turks remains a burning issue for Armenians today. Armenians in Nagorno Karabagh have fought bitter war to hold Armenian lands against the Turkic Azeris as recently as the 1990s.
Armenians are justified in their frustration and anger over the world’s failure to acknowledge the murderous injury they suffered, and Turkey’s absurd denials and prosections that continue to this day, and have campaigned long and hard for the United States and other nations to address that.
Many in Congress are recognizing, however, that in the bad neighborhood that is the Middle East, America has an ongoing war of its own, and needs to choose its enemies carefully. The Armenian genocide is, outside Turkey, universally accepted history, and Turkey only makes itself look foolish by denying it. But Turkey is a vital supply route for the U.S. military in Iraq, and there are also highly sensitive issues surrounding Kurdish rebels use of Iraqi territory in their guerrilla war against the Turks. Revisiting the more sordid aspects of Turkish history, some congressmen are beginning to recognize, may run counter to vital American interests in time of war.
War supply issues aside, current events may have superceded Congress’ moral concerns. Kurdish separatist attacks and the Turkish military response in the last few days have raised the specter of a new combat zone in a formerly quiet corner of Iraq. It’s a prospect that may have sobered even the Democratic-led United States Congress, notoriously unconcerned about the consequences of its actions regarding Iraq.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said she would go ahead with a vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution, but late last week was said to be wavering in the face of opposition. Her poor choice of enemies in this case is now being called one of her greatest missteps.
Questions have been raised about the extent to which Pelosi’s desire for Armenian justice is a principled moral stand, as opposed to an underhanded effort to undercut a war she has not been able to influence the progress of the war more directly. If that is the case, it is beyond ironic that Pelosi would risk new hazards for American soldiers, and pursue a course toward enabling a new genocide in Iraq, through a symbolic assignment of blame on the murders of 90 years ago. Given Pelosi’s earlier efforts to boost Syria, an overt adversary of the United States, it is heartening to see her own party’s membership apparently acting as a check on her dangerously poor judgment. It is probably too much to hope that Pelosi, having made a poor choice of enemies, risks losing allies.
But Armenians themselves may want to consider whether it advances their cause to expect Americans in time of war to act against America’s interest on their symbolic behalf. The blood of Armenian genocide victims does cry out for recognition. But the example of their own hero suggests that each day is another day, each battle another battle, and you have to choose your allies and your enemies carefully.
duminică, 7 octombrie 2007
A priest was being honored at his retirement dinner after 25 years in the parish. A leading local politician and member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and give a little speech at the dinner. However, he was delayed, so the priest decided to say his own few words while they waited.
"I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, was able to lie his way out of it.
He had stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his employer, had an affair with his boss's wife, taken illegal drugs, and gave VD to his sister. I was appalled. But as the days went on I learned that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people."...
Just as the priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies at being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and gave his talk. "I'll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived," said the politician. "In fact, I had the honor of being the first person to go to him for confession."
Moral: Never, Never, Never Be Late!
comment: i mean NOT EVER! LOL :)))))
The French and Turkish Foreign Ministers agreed that their countries have more similarities than differences and that continued dialogue between the two nations has the potential to improve relations. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and his guest, French Foreign Minister and Minister of European Affairs Bernard Kouchner, were speaking at a press conference Friday during a visit by Kouchner to Ankara. Babacan said the French Foreign Minister was informed that Turkey does not want to be dragged into discussions about the future of the EU and awaits the fulfillment of European promises made to it. The two were set to have a second round of talks in the evening, when, according to Babacan, they would discuss Turkish and French interests in other countries, especially the Middle East.
Kouchner was also scheduled to visit President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where discussions were expected to focus on issues such as a “committee of wise men” and “privileged partnership.” Babacan informed Kouchner about Turkey’s unwillingness to even discuss the possibility of a status other than full membership in the European Union, Zaman reports.
As to the French bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide denial, the French Foreign Minister claimed in the press conference that the law will not cause any difficulty between Turkey and France and that nothing has been decided upon yet. The committee of wise men France is supposed to discuss the future strategies and boundaries of the EU. France also asks that this committee work on the Mediterranean Union that France wants to see Turkey a part of.
In an interview with the Milliyet newspaper, Kouchner said that France recently went through a difficult period in its relations with Turkey and that his visit should be regarded as a symbol of a mutual desire to give a strong new impetus to relations between the two. Kouchner is the first high-level French official to visit Ankara since Nicolas Sarkozy, a staunch opponent of Turkey’s EU accession, was elected president in May. Sarkozy has repeatedly said Turkey does not belong in the EU, arguing that it is geographically in Asia.
comment: WHAT A HYPOCRITE. i wonder with how much was he bribed....